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GUEST BLOG #18: Tom Brinkmoeller Launches a TV WORTH WATCHING Contest Of His Own
May 22, 2009  | By Tom Brinkmoeller

[Bianculli here: Contributing writer Tom Brinkmoeller does two things in his latest column. One, he starts out by referring to my Extras, the in-jokes I collect that are hidden in TV shows -- which I mention only because, next week, I'm devoting a column to my favorite Extra in years (one which, so far, seems to have gone unnoticed).

Two, Tom asks for reader feedback by bribing you with the lure of a gift. That doesn't bother me. What bothers me is it's a much better bribe than when I do it. How dare he offer up an out-of-print Beatles book, and act like it's no big deal? And all under the guise of presenting and gathering TV gripes.

But go ahead, read ahead, and play along. If I complain, it'll just sound like... sour gripes.

Second (In As Many Weeks) TV WORTH WATCHING Invitational

Many years ago, I learned many of the people who savor the Bianculli approach to television are active participants in what they read. David is a collector of what he calls "Extras" -- inside references hidden within a television show. (The final count is still out on whether he likes Extras more than he likes puns.)


And for years, his readers have happily collected and reported the obvious and the obscure Extras to him -- e.g., when Neil Patrick Harris' Barney character in How I Met Your Mother complained in a recent episode about the poor quality of today's child actors. (Old Doog yearns new slicks.) The Extras continue, by the way, on this very website, and you can find them by clicking HERE.

The continued reader loyalty showed up mightily last week when the owner of this space invited readers to guess the weekend take for Star Trek. Forty-one responses later, those of us who enjoy reading what all of you write had a better analysis of the film's chances than we would have, had we mainlined the Hollywood Reporter into our veins.

Riding that wave of involvement, and acknowledging that so much of TV WORTH WATCHING celebrates what's good about television, I'm inviting all of you to a grouse-along. TV, like a cheap wool suit, can irritate you with every move. Creative complaining about the irritant factor can be a powerful salve. You have shown yourselves to be a very thoughtful, very creative group. So how about putting on your Andy Rooney hats and scratching the medium back? I offer some examples:


If Geico really does offer the lowest car insurance price, how much lower would that cost be if the company didn't spend so much on commercial time?

Why would anyone want to watch another TV series that features an obnoxious cook? On-air promos for TLC's Cake Boss has the starring chef telling staff the orders come from God's lips to his ears. Another shows him pouring a large amount of flour from the top of a building onto an employee. Does a 40-watt IQ and high propensity to abuse your employees equal a killer TV formula? Makes you wonder if offers of a series haven't gone out to Osama bin Laden.

A yogurt brand brags about its "bifidus regularis" ingredient. Do you also think you first saw that phrase when it was supered onto the screen of a Road Runner cartoon as the scientific name for a coyote?


Why do advertisers think an English accent will make American television watchers all the more eager to buy an overpriced broom or a device that scrapes dead skin off of feet? If it works, does this explain the Simon Cowell phenomenon?

Has anyone else sworn never to buy an Oreo Minicakester because of the way women are portrayed as mindless, screaming sweets predators in the product's commercials?

Does Billy Mays scream all his conversations? If so, do you think his kids let him wish them goodnight? Is the most-mellow-voiced Empire Today announcer still working his way out a '60s lid of unbelievable grass? (Don't buy the hemp carpeting, just in case.)

long-winding-road-book.jpgNow it's your turn. Last time, Bianculli offered a prize to the person who came closest to the box-office take. I have a prize to offer, too: A review copy of the 1984 (paperback) The Long and Winding Road--A History of the Beatles on Record (it still has the publisher's press release tucked inside). A semi-worthless prize, to be sure, but I said goodbye to all my shlock from the networks about three moves ago.

Like the examples, keep your offerings as concise as possible. Judging will be totally subjective, and by me, and extra points may be awarded for creative incorporation of puns into the grouse. Or may not.

And one last thought: Since so many weight-loss commercials superimpose the disclaimer "Results not typical" over a tiny part of the screen, does your mind do evil things to you when you imagine what "typical" is?



I, like Peter Sellers' Chauncey Gardner character in the film Being There, unapologetically "like to watch." My almost-a-geezer status gives me more time than ever to watch the lesser-hyped areas of television, where I often find some wonderful gems. Sharing those finds is even more fun than watching.



My grouse: when local TV news people are given the last 20-40 seconds to talk to each other off script. Usually they try to relate it to whatever happy, human interest story they just fed us. You know, something like:
Anchor (finishing story): "And that's the story of the singing mailman."
Sports Guy: "You might say, he delivers."
Anchor: "Hahaha...yes. You might...Well join us at 11, for slightly edited versions of the packages we've just showed you. Good night."

Okay, so I changed the sign-off a bit, but still. Yuck to the off-script banter of local news people.

(Chris -- Remember when the goal of nearly every local anchor was to move to the network? Roles, it seems, are rolling in reverse--just watch "Today" on any day and you hear the national version of mindless anchor chatter the "Live at Five" gang pioneered. -- Tom B.)

Comment posted on May 22, 2009 9:08 AM

Eileen said:

Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings..well, every time the "Viva Viagra" commercial plays, Elvis Presley rolls over in his grave.

Really, do we need this much knowledge? My favorite part of the commercial is "if 'you know what' persists for four hours or more, see a doctor". YIKES!!

That's just one of many things I really don't need to know -- especially at dinner time...

(Eileen -- Just think how the makers of Viva paper towels must react. And ouch just doesn't match the dilemma of the manufacturer's side-effects disclosure. Medicine commercials are tedious, and potentially dangerous, but this one raises the bar.. so to speak. -- Tom B.)

Comment posted on May 22, 2009 10:49 AM


The real trick is to ask your doctor what they would do if someone did come in with that problem. I wonder if they know. Is there some sort of pill that will make the four hour problem go away?


(Geez. Not only is Tom replying to you guys, but now you guys are replying to one another. I feel positively superfluous. Keep it up. Me, I'm back to The Book. Three chapters and nine days left. -- David B.)

Comment posted on May 22, 2009 12:54 PM

Hayley said:

I wish advertisers wouldn't blare the commercials 20 decibels louder than the TV programs. When they do that, I'm more inclined to fast forward the DVR or mute the sound, resulting in me missing the commercial entirely. Of course, DVR, the web, and bladders make it hard for advertisers to capture viewer attention, and I realize they pay for the programming. I guess I should remember the words of Raja on Aliens in America, 'I do not think it is right to not watch the commercials. Commercials are how we pay for the show. Otherwise, I think we are stealing.'
On the topic of stealing, someone stole Aliens in America from many adoring viewers like me. That was a brilliant show that I wouldn't mind watching commercials, even loud, blaring ones, to see again.

Comment posted on May 22, 2009 1:30 PM

Eileen said:

I work in the Emergency Department at a NYC hospital. Mercifully, we've not had that problem -- YET!! If we do, I'll be happy to share what "magic bullet" they use to remedy. (Hey, you two! Get a [chat] room! -- David B.)

Comment posted on May 22, 2009 2:05 PM

Neil said:

Wait a sec...are you, David B., not the one whose response to comments about the Viagra "4-hour" problem was "Keep it up"? And you're yelling at Chris and Eileen?

If only there was a way they could hook up via this website...

Hey, this might actually be the germ of an idea for a brand extension. How about TV Worth Matching.com? Or TV Worth Watching - The Match Game? (If CSI, Lawn Odor and Family Guy can keep doing spinoffs, why not Bianculli?)


(Hmmm. If we launch a TV Worth Dating Game, would you be our virtual Bob Eubanks? And, for the record, I wasn't complaining about Chris and Eileen, really. Just jealous. -- David B.)

Comment posted on May 23, 2009 4:44 AM

Ed Q said:

David, I know you're buried in your book but what gripes me is when you post in your best bets events that happened yesterday. While I understand ABC will show Lebron ad nauseum tonight, the Lakers v. Nuggets is the game they'll be showing.

With that being said can you best bet the hockey game since that will be far more entertaining?

(Sigh -- That's me being so screwy, I literally don't even know what day it is. Mea culpa. I'll strike it from the best bets now. Sorry! And this IS Saturday now, still, right? -- David B.

Comment posted on May 23, 2009 6:41 PM

Ant said:

I already blogged about this, but it seems worth repeating. I hate the eharmony ads. And not only because the company is homophobic, though that certainly helps.

The eharmony.com ads purport to be "true." Not that I expected them to be actually true, but the illusion is a little harder to maintain when you contradict your own story in two different versions of the same commercial. In the first version, Tanyalee says that she was too busy owning a store to date. In the second version, Tanyalee claims she and Josh opened her store together. And then they show footage of the same store. In theory there could be TWO stores, but then show different footage. Terrible.

Also Hayley you are so right about the volume problem!

Comment posted on May 25, 2009 9:44 AM

Hey ANT,

So nice of you to bring accusations of 'Homophobia' and attacks on "Breeders" into Tom's contests.

I actually can't stand the "Cancer Treatment Centers of America" commerial. It features Peggy Kessler who apparently tells her story dramatically about how she was only given so many months to live. I've seen this commerical too many times! I'm starting to think she's the only one this place has ever cured! The commerical is too long talks about all this alternative stuff. She's either too happy in some shots or too sad.

They show her smirking in front of her little country store in Wayne and I think it has to be a set-up. This commerical gets more fake and cliche everytime I see it. Why is Peggy the only patient? this commerical is over a year old. It went away for about 6 months and now it's back! - what? did she relapse? I just can't stand her voice, she really annoys me. (I think you're being playful, but still civil, in your reply to ANT. Just wanted to make sure. We expect respectful behavior here. -- David B.)


Comment posted on May 26, 2009 12:18 PM

Gieneh said:

On the Peggy Kessler/Cancer Treatment Center commercial, I read an article about the quaint country store in the commercial - the producers rented the store for two days to film the commercial. Ms. Kessler has no connection to the store, nor is she even from the area or a frequent visitor to the store.

Ah, but the deception really enhances the believability of the cure, doesn't it? After all, if they'd fake the store connection, is the fake mind-body connection far behind?

Comment posted on June 4, 2009 7:06 AM

cindy said:

oh my yes.... the limey, kiwi accents are such a worn out gimmick. i am sure they are all very nice people but WHY do they have to host and sell on shows? have we run out of capable americans? do NONE of our talented people need jobs? why oh why???? m'thinks the talent pool (in these perilous economic times) should come from our own.

and another thing......that d**n music that backgrounds the food and home network shows. sooooo annoying. and the panning of the camera, in and out, around the premises and up and down. dizzying usage of a camera that almost gives me vertigo. and those that have vertigo surely cannot watch those shows, eh?truly, the music sometimes drowns out what the chefs or hosts are saying.

thanks for the vent

Comment posted on August 27, 2009 3:27 PM

bill said:

John Q Citizen, the Peggy Kessler cancer commercial is now around 6 years old. You made some good points, but your misspelling of "commercial" is very annoying. Since you made the same error multiple times, I can only assume you actually think that's the correct way to spell it.
The actual story is that Cancer Treatment Centers rented the Wayne Country Store as a backdrop for the commercial. Peggy Kessler has no association with the store, which is a real store in Wayne, IL and sells horse tack. And the continued airing of this very stale commercial just validates my belief that marketing has gone mad and that advertisers (Geico and Progressive just to name a few) ram the commercials down peoples throats around the clock, which to me, has an adverse effect. I would never ever buy a product from any of these companies simply because the force their stupid ads on me. If advertisers were smart, they would keep fresh commercials coming instead of repeating the same ones over and over.

Comment posted on August 22, 2011 4:08 AM
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